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Case forwarded against Hagerstown man charged in robbery at illegal poker game

State trooper involved in game has been suspended

State trooper involved in game has been suspended

August 20, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- The case against a Hagerstown man charged in the May 30 holdup at an illicit poker game was forwarded to Washington County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon.

Michael Joseph Campher was charged in the robbery in which two men took about $4,000 from 18 people, including a Maryland State Police trooper, who were involved in the Texas Hold 'Em poker game.

The trooper has been suspended and another man has been charged with operating the games.

Campher, 22, of 960 Security Road, Apt. A, faces 52 charges in the case, Washington County District Court records show.

He was being held Tuesday at the Washington County Detention Center, a deputy said. Washington County District Judge Ralph H. France II dropped Campher's bail from $400,000 to $250,000.

Trooper 1st Class Michael A. Ford of the Hagerstown barracks confirmed to investigators that he was one of the victims of the robbery, according to charging documents for Campher filed by Maryland State Police Cpl. Carl R. Hager of the Combined County Criminal Investigation Unit in Cumberland, Md.

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Ford remained on suspension Tuesday, and an internal investigation into the gambling activities continues, state police spokeswoman Elena Russo said.

Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said in a letter that he would not prosecute illegal gambling in exchange for Ford's cooperation and the cooperation of another victim, District Court documents show.

Investigators learned of the robbery when someone told one of Ford's supervisors June 10, Hager testified.

Five of the victims said that the robbery happened between 10 and 10:30 p.m., during a break in the poker game, Hager testified Tuesday. The games were played Wednesday, Friday and Saturday in rented office space at 223 N. Prospect St. in Hagerstown, Hager said.

On May 30, two men in ski masks walked in and ordered everyone to put their money on the table, Hager said. One of the men pointed a gun at a player, and everyone put their money on the table as the other man gathered it up, according to victims he interviewed, Hager said.

The victims heard the man with the gun address the man gathering the money as "Mike," and several of the players noticed that the man addressed as Mike had distinct-looking greenish eyes and a bulge under his mask that could have been created by dreadlocks, Hager said.

The players later discussed those details and agreed that the man gathering the money was a man with dreadlocks and green eyes who played with them there before, known to them as "Mike," Hager testified.

Campher was charged with first-degree assault, armed robbery, robbery, second-degree assault, theft, use of a handgun in the commission of a felony, reckless endangerment, and conspiracy to commit robbery and armed robbery in that case. Additional charges have been filed against Campher because investigators located additional victims, Hager said after Tuesday's hearing.

Campher was being held on $400,000 bond in connection with the new case, Hager said.

William Ray Cosey, 54, of 301 S. Mulberry St. in Hagerstown, faces six gambling-related charges in connection with the gambling activities on North Prospect Street.

Games continued even after the robbery, according to charging documents filed against Cosey in District Court July 29.

Officers executed a search warrant at the North Prospect Street address June 13, and found 13 people playing poker. The players identified Cosey as the operator, Hager wrote in charging documents.

The maximum penalty for conviction on each of the six charges is no more than one year in jail.

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